How Morning Pages Are Helping Me Survive Writer’s Block #WritersBlock #Writing

#Writers #AmWriting

I always thought Writer’s Block could be cured by simply showing up at your writing desk every day and waiting for the words to appear.

Then I got the worst case of Writer’s Block I have ever experienced.

After six long weeks of sitting at a blank screen each day and feeling like a part of my brain had shut down I started to worry. No matter what I did the words and ideas never showed up.

I tried all sorts of stuff to unblock my mind; forcing myself to write something different, taking a break from writing, throwing myself into my Goodreads challenge, changing my diet, talking to Writer Friends, reviewing my WIP, returning to Yoga, wearing new underwear, taking vitamins, shouting my frustrations from rooftops, screaming into supermarket food freezers (very good for the creative soul), tweeting random stuff and taking cold showers. Nothing.

Then the desperation set in. Cue the mood swings, paranoia, tears and sarcasm. This was quickly followed by wandering about the house, looking like a lost ghost, wailing, “am I still a writer?”

Luckily for my family and friends, who had to suffer me during this troubled state, I found an article on Pinterest about Morning Pages and Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way.’

So here’s the deal on Morning Pages:

You get up forty minutes earlier, every day, to write, 3 sides of paper longhand. You write whatever comes into your head.

There are no rules on what you write about. You don’t even edit them.

Basically you drain all the rubbish from your brain every morning.

This mental de-cluttering allows you to process the rest of the day with clear thinking.

According to Julia Cameron, Morning Pages, ‘provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.’

So, my initial reaction to getting up at 5.15 A.M. to do Morning Pages was one of horror, shock and disbelief.

Added to this was my dislike of writing long hand.

“I can’t write stuff WITH A PEN!” I yelled. “Pens are so retro.”

“I can’t think at that ungodly time, let alone try to use a pen!”

After a small creative tantrum, a lot of sulking and a signed petition from my loved ones, begging me to start writing again, I thought I would give it a go.

The first week was interesting. I wrote, ‘it’s too early!’ about a thousand times and found myself wanting to return to screaming into supermarket food freezers, whilst wearing new underwear.

The second week contained absolute rubbish and a lot of whining.

By the third week things had changed. I was starting to make important writing and life observations:

  • The decision to put my writing desk next to my bed was not one of my best. Thinking ideas through whilst lying in bed only produces snores, not words.
  • I am like an emotional sponge, I soak up everyone else’s negativity. My head was filled with other people’s dark stuff.
  • My current WIP scared the hell out of me.

By the fourth week I had started to write in the collection of pretty notebooks gathering dust on my shelves. I had even put one in my handbag and was scribbling down ideas, thoughts and observations during my office lunch hour. Writing long hand everyday does strange things to you.

By the fifth week I was able to view situations in my day job differently. When I say differently I mean without emotion. This has been a revelation to me.

It’s the sixth week and I have found myself tinkering with my WIP. I am not fully recovered from whatever blocked me but I feel like I am making good progress. My head feels lighter and different.

I am definitely carrying on with Morning Pages.

Have you tried Morning Pages and how did you find it?

Have you got any other useful tips on surviving Writer’s Block?

Posted by

Still waiting for the Sleepless in Seattle film sequel. Romcom Author. Book Blogger. Mum of teens. Owned by a golden Labrador.

48 thoughts on “How Morning Pages Are Helping Me Survive Writer’s Block #WritersBlock #Writing

  1. Never heard of Morning Pages… but the thought of 45 minutes EARLIER than usual… I don’t think I could cope! STill it sounds like a great idea, I like the thought of draining excess from the brain!

  2. I already get up every morning at 6.30 to go to work and I wouldn’t get up earlier unless you put a shotgun to my head. But the writing longhand in a notebook that appeals to me. Especially like the idea with regard to poetry…

  3. I love doing my Morning Pages! Started it about five years ago and don’t know how I coped before! I don’t use this method just for writing but also for personal development. It’s a great way to brain dump! I only do 5 minutes every morning now and probably fill three pages in my (smaller) notepad, but it certainly gets the brain fired up and ready to go! Great post x

  4. I cheat and do my morning pages at lunchtime on but I don’t worry about stuff once I’ve written it down…which means a) I worry less and b) I get more writing done!

  5. Following the site just from the title of it hehe. Writer’s block, stubbing toes and fingers occasionally against that wall.

  6. Its a great idea we constantly have all this “stuff” or I do running my brain ragged and then when you go to put it on paper it doesn’t come! I have chicken scratch written every where in all types of notebooks. Crazy isnt it. Thanks great post!

  7. I’ve done the morning pages thing a few times. I bought a fancy Moleskine just to do them in. It helps me when I need to start something new and don’t have much of anything to work my characters through yet.

  8. Writer’s block depends on the cause. If starting something new and staring at a blank page with nothing to write then it’s probably down to a lack of research (which includes lots of reading in the genre) or not enough daydreaming. If it occurs during writing then it could be down to taking the wrong turn and finding yourself on the road to nowhere, go back to where you went off track. Perhaps you don’t know your characters well enough and need to rectify this. Or it could be muse fatigue/written yourself out, and rather than sit there turning the key on a flat battery jump start it by distraction, either by taking a break and reading or engaging in a different activity. Lastly it could be idea overload, again step back and cogitate/daydream on the main theme until it clarifies.

    But ‘morning pages’ does look like another method into a jump start – though I’m not sure it actually has to be done in the morning. As I write late into the night (4.00am isn’t unknown) my brain is mush in the morning.

    1. Thx – great comment. Muse fatigue is interesting. This year I have wrote 2 different first drafts and rewritten an existing draft. All about 60k. Maybe my muse is exhausted?

  9. I Really loved this trigger: “a signed petition from my loved ones, begging me to start writing again”.
    Oh for support like that!

  10. Delighted to hear this Lucy – morning pages really are transformative. I first discovered Julia Cameron’s book back in 2004 and it basically started my writing career. Over the years I’ve lost my discipline, but I do dip in and out again – always have a notebook by the bed, just in case. Your story has inspired me to get back to them again, asap! It’s amazing how you become more aware and it’s great to hear the small changes happening in your daily life 🙂

    1. I am loving my MP and I am also loving the ‘Artists Way’ course. It’s really helping me have some fun again. That’s the problem with writing, we can so lost with the ‘what ifs’. Thanks for reading Evie G!

  11. I’ve used similar techniques for life in general, but tend to find I let it drift after a while. That said, I go back to it when things are not going well. Glad you’ve found something that works for you, Lucy. Not sure standing in the freezer section in just your underwear is the way forward – although it depends what you’re trying to achieve, I suppose!

  12. The whole concept behind the Morning Pages (and the Artist’s Date another of Cameron’s important concepts) are absolutely fantastic. May you have seen you last block – at least as serious as you describe here. 🙂

  13. Morning pages don’t work for me. But attempting them has given me a few great blog posts in the past. I once set my alarm to wake me up early to write, then I dreamt I wrote reams of wonderful words, only to wake up finding myself still clutching the alarm clock and no writing accomplished at all. Other times, i can’t read what I’ve written, it’s such a meandering mush of pen on the page. So I do a zone out thing from time to time, I just get into a kind of zen-meditation-self-hypnosis thing and write in a kind of stream-of-consciousness way, that can be interesting. or using a writing prompt such as a picture or key word and just write and write until there’s nothing left to say. Very liberating. And, bizarrely, feels like REAL writing.

  14. I haven’t tried Morning Pages, but it sounds like something I need to do. I get frustrated with Writer’s Block a lot. There are days I question myself as a writer. I try to journal in the middle of the day, but sometimes the block doesn’t go away.

    I’ll probably be like you and have mental tantrums about waking up early and writing three pages full of stuff when I’m not fully awake. I struggle with waking up in the morning as it is. But I think it will develop a discipline that is sorely lacking in my life.

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